“All Around Humanitarian” is not the title Thomas ‘Tom’ Maguire Jr. would have ever imagined to be next to his name ten years ago, let alone be nominated for 2016’s Mayor of Philadelphia Treatment Provider Award.
However, after countless and ruthless attempts at rebuilding his life, Tom can confidently say he has not only made a difference in one life but influenced hundreds over the course of his new-found career. Tom Maguire Jr., native to the Philadelphia area, has recently advised his hometown’s city government on ways to lower the number of overdoses they encounter daily. Tom draws from personal experience on his active campaign to alleviate drug use and overdose in his home state.
“My father, a mailman for over 30 years, has traveled all over Philadelphia and has seen the dynamic of Kensington change into ground zero for drug addiction.”
What Thomas Maguire Sr. did not expect to see was his son, crossing street corners to purchase the same substances he witnessed destroy his neighborhood.
Tom Maguire Jr. began underage drinking in high school and once he entered his first semester at Monmouth University in New Jersey, his experimentation with drugs and alcohol escalated. “I quit playing sports; I quit attending class. I was introduced to OxyContin and then graduated to harder drugs.”
“Every route that I took led me to jail or multiple rehabs that my family and I endured,” says Tom Jr. “I became jobless, homeless and hopeless in my stomping grounds. Since Philadelphia was renowned for its large population of drug abuse, I fit in perfectly.”
Tom’s experience of almost a decade of substance abuse and judicial arrests finally led him to make a life-saving change. “I went through a string of South Florida drug rehab centers before but I had finally had enough. It took me almost ten years to finally make one decision, but I’m incredibly grateful for that gift of desperation.”
Tom’s charitable work extends far beyond sharing his trials and tribulations with others recovering from drug addiction. He also travels the nation to speak at seminars, advocacy groups, and still maintains his sobriety through fellowship programs. Although Tom’s tenure at Ambrosia Treatment Center may only be two years, his passion for change has surpassed the amount of time as an Outreach Coordinator.
“With the guidance of many people and the lessons I’ve learned during this journey… I’m becoming the person that I needed when I was struggling with addiction.”
The street corner in Philadelphia, which Tom frequently visited during his active addiction, has now become a cornerstone for policy change. He continues to gain public support for lowering the heroin epidemic in the Northeast, as well as spreading education throughout the rest of the United States.
“Tom’s story is one of the most impressive examples of dogged determination,” writes Philadelphia’s City Councilman David Oh, an advocate for Tom’s activism, “and an unrelenting spirit in changing the lives of many.”